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Gallery + Classroom Program: STL Civil Rights Legacy

Dates Available: Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, from June 5 through July 26

Start Times Offered: 10am, 12pm

Program Duration: 1 hour and 45 minutes

Ages: 5–18

Group Size: 10–50 children

Gallery Visited:    #1 in Civil Rights: The African American Freedom Struggle in St. Louis

Chaperone Requirement: 1 adult chaperone per 8 children

Price: Free

This landmark exhibition examines the rich and longstanding Civil Rights history in St. Louis. From the first Civil Rights demonstration in the country on the steps of the Old Courthouse, to the freedom suit of Dred and Harriet Scott, to the modern Black Lives Matter movement, there is a strong legacy of Civil Rights activism in St. Louis. *Please note that some of the oral histories in this exhibition use language that may offend or upset some visitors.

More about this Gallery + Classroom Program
This program aims to expand and deepen students’ traditional understanding of the Civil Rights movement to include those working long before and after the 1950s and 1960s right here in their hometown. Students will visit three areas of the exhibition representing different time periods in St. Louis’s history. At each stop, students will learn about the historical and social context and the agency of the individuals highlighted. Participatory conversations, hands-on activities, and a short theatre performance will extend students’ understanding of the exhibition. Here’s a closer look at what the students will see and do:

In the Gallery
During the gallery tour, students will be historians as they investigate the people, events, and artifacts of the St. Louis Civil Rights Movement from the early 1800s to today. Students will define and connect their own rights to those that activists fought for in the past and will think about their own agency to protect their rights and the rights of others.

  • At stop 1, Students will investigate some of the city’s earliest activists, including John and Mary Meachum, Lucy Delany, and Charleton Tandy. Students will compare and contrast the actions each activist took and evaluate their outcomes.
  • At stop 2, Students will activate their historical imagination as they learn protest songs used at the Jefferson Bank sit-ins in the 1960s. Students will interpret how historic activists felt as they fought for Civil Rights.
  • At stop 3, Thanks to the Ferguson Collecting Initiative, MHM has many diverse artifacts from the events in Ferguson. Students will compare and contrast the stories told by different artifacts and will discover the importance of collecting today to ensure diverse stories are told in the future. 

*Please note that the above stops may not occur in chronological order. Also, portions of each stop may be cut out if your group arrives late.

In the Classroom
Following the tour, students will explore additional primary source documents in a classroom activity while forging a personal connection to the people, places, and events of St. Louis's black history:

  • Group of students ages 5-10: While the gallery explicitly addresses the freedom struggle for African Americans, students will have the opportunity to explore the broader context of Civil Rights in the classroom. They will evaluate how activists communicate their messages through images and words. Then, they will identify and explain issues they care about and create a poster that advocates for their views.
  • Group of students ages 11-18: In the classroom, students will explore more deeply how various moments of activism coalesce to form a larger movement. This activity also emphasizes media literacy skills; asking students to analyze different newspaper reports on various St. Louis events, including the Dred Scott decision, the Jefferson Bank protests, and the events in Ferguson. They evaluate the media’s role in shaping public opinion on both moments and the larger movement. 

*Please note that portions of the activity may be cut out if your group arrives late. Also, if your group is over 25 students, half of the group may do the classroom first.

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